Have You Heard of Rest-Pause Training?

If you want to gain size and strength, it’s time to become familiar with rest-pause training.


There are many techniques a bodybuilder can use to increase training intensity. Some of the most common methods to increase training intensity are:

pyramids (progressions from lighter loads with higher reps to heavier weights with fewer reps over several sets)
supersets (two exercises performed in alternating sequence)
forced repetitions
partial reps
negative reps (eccentric muscle actions)

A less commonly used principle to increase muscle workout intensity is rest-pause training.


Rest-pause training breaks down one set into several mini-sets, with a short rest between each exercise, allowing for greater muscle activation. A lifter will normally rest 10-15 seconds between each rep. This may seem counterintuitive to training, but it can you help increase your strength and muscle hypertrophy. Remember, you’re trying to do as many reps as you can with each mini-set, so the number of reps will vary depending upon your strength and endurance. The rest-pause method involves training to failure, resting, then continuing to do more reps. Previous studies utilizing rest-pause training demonstrated greater muscle activation versus the other protocols. Another study found that resistance trained subjects who performed the rest-pause method on the leg press, bench press, and lateral pull-down exhibited significantly higher basal energy expenditure and VO2 for up to 22 hours post-exercise, in comparison to traditional resistance training.


Rest-pause sets allow a lifter to increase workout intensity and reach muscle failure several times in one set without significantly increasing exercise volume. According to the latest study published in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research, rest-pause is great for increasing leg size. Researchers tested the effects of rest-pause training compared to traditional multi-set training. All subjects trained four days a week for six weeks, using a split routine. On days 1 and 3 subjects did barbell bench press, dumbbell incline press, cable cross, military press, lateral raise, triceps pulley, barbell triceps extension. On days 2 and 4, subjects did the squat, 45-degree leg press, leg curl, lateral pull-down, seated row, dumbbell row, standing barbell biceps curl, and preacher curl. The workouts looked like this:


Rest-pause group: an initial set with 80 percent of 1-RM was performed until failure. Subsequent sets performed with a 20 sec inter-set rest interval until a total of 18 repetitions were completed; 2-3 min of rest between exercises. In this group, the lifter would do the first set until failure, rest 20 seconds, do another set until failure, rest 20 seconds, and continue to do this until failure.

Traditional multi-set group: exercises were performed for three sets of 6 repetitions, with 80 percent of 1-RM; 2-3 min of rest between sets and exercises.


Both groups did 18 repetitions, but rest-pause group did 1 set, whereas the other group did 3 sets of 6 repetitions with 2-minute rest periods. At the end of the 6-week study, the researchers measured strength and muscle size in both groups. In regard to muscle strength, both groups made similar gains. However, when considering muscle endurance and muscle hypertrophy, the rest-pause group made greater gains for the leg press exercises, but not the bench press. The rest-pause group achieved greater muscular endurance and thigh muscle hypertrophy compared to the traditional resistance training group. The researchers suspected that training to failure caused greater muscle hypertrophy compared to the traditional resistance exercise group. The metabolic stress generated from rest-pause training manifested by the accumulation of metabolites, tissue hypoxia, cellular swelling, and alterations in local myogenic factors would increase hypertrophic adaptations and muscle strength.



Prestes, J., Tibana, R. A., de Araujo Sousa, E., da Cunha Nascimento, D., de Oliveira Rocha, P., Camarço, N. F., & Willardson, J. M. (2017). Strength And Muscular Adaptations Following 6 Weeks Of Rest-Pause Versus Traditional Multiple-Sets Resistance Training In Trained Subjects. The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research.
Marshall PW, Robbins DA, Wrightson AW, and Siegler JC. Acute
426 neuromuscular and fatigue responses to the rest-pause method. J Sci Med Sport 15: 153-158, 427 2012.